Summary: When Sara and Greg disappear on assignment, the whole lab starts working their case. Meanwhile, Nick somehow finds himself unwillingly lying to his friends. GSR, Greg/Sara friendship, Greg/Nick friendship.
It had sounded like a routine mission. Sara was tired, and it was almost the end of her shift. Greg wasn't supposed to go. Grissom had decided to go with her. Sara had been mildly surprised. Lately, Grissom seemed to have been avoiding her like the plague. The fact that he'd told her he was coming intrigued her. He said he'd wanted to talk to her, and this would be the perfect opportunity.
But then, at the last minute, Grissom decided to send Greg instead. This prompted Sara to confront him.
"What is wrong with you?" she snapped, walking into his office without knocking. He looked confused, an expression that Sara was getting very used to from him.
"You're angry," he said, half calmly, half puzzled.
"Greg comes up to me like a hyper-active puppy dog telling me you said he was to go with me on this case when you made such a big deal about talking to me alone. I'm perplexed, if anything, and yeah, maybe I am a little angry because you drive me nuts sometimes."
Grissom chuckled a little and leaned back in his chair. "I'm sorry, Sara, but this has nothing to do with you, if that's what you're thinking. We just got in a case about a murdered photography student, and that, coupled with that cop-killer case that Nick and I are working on has swamped me with work."
"So put Greg on the photography case," Sara whined, reminding herself of a child. "You've been avoiding me for a week now."
"I have not been avoiding you," Grissom said, still utterly calm.
"Oh, you have too," Sara hissed, accusingly. "You have and you know it."
"Sara, I think Greg's waiting for you," Grissom noted. "And I really should get back to work. If you want to talk, we can do it when you get back."
Sara stared at him for a few more minutes until she let out a loud cry of frustration between turning on her heal and leaving. She paused in the doorway, her back still to him. "If you don't say it now, then you never will. You've done this to me too many times, I won't let you do it again. It's now or never" She turned her head to look at him. "So?" Grissom avoided her eyes as he seemed to be scanning some papers on his desk intently. Sara sighed. "I figured. Goodbye, Grissom."
"Earth to Sara! I need you here."
She jolted back into the moment as Greg hit her shin.
"Sorry," she said. "Damn, it stinks in here…" she waved at the air under her nose to hopefully chase away the repugnant reek of every kind of human fluid imaginable intermingling in her nostrils.
"Eh, I've gotten used to it," said Greg with a shrug. Sara stared at him and he caught her eye. "What?"
Sara rolled her eyes. "Whatever, I just want to get out of here."
"All we got here is enough blood to know that someone's dead," Greg said, straightening up and dusting his hands off. "We don't have a body, or a weapon."
Sara looked around and wrinkled her nose at her surroundings. "This is disgusting. Are all men's restrooms like this or is this one just special?"
"It's a bar's restroom," Greg replied. "They're all special."
"You get a sample of the blood," Sara said, putting down her camera. "Catherine will be interested in these splatter patterns. Other than that, there's not much point looking for much else in this dump. The whole scene is just… ugh." Sara shivered.
Greg looked up at her with that goofy smile of his. "Kinda makes you feel romantic, doesn't it?"
She glared at him. "Try not to get anything… else in the blood sample, which is probably already contaminated from all this… shit." For lack of a better word. She shivered again. "If you see anything unusual, like, I don't know, soap maybe, then bag it. I'm going back to the car."
"Suit yourself," said Greg, already taking that sample.
Sara raked her hands through her hair as she walked back through the bar. She couldn't believe Grissom. She never knew what went on inside his head and it drove her nuts. She was so preoccupied with her frustration that she neglected to notice that the bartender wasn't behind the bar cleaning glasses like he'd been when they'd arrived.
She went outside in the hot Nevada sun and climbed into the front seat of the jeep. She took out her phone and dialed Grissom. Before it even began to rang, it beeped in her ear and died. She threw her head back against the seat and stared at the roof. Then she felt the steal against her throat. It was like ice in the desert heat. The words in her ear were moist and it made her tense.
So long as that knife remained against her skin, she wasn't planning on it.
"Don't talk, either."
Alright, so begging for her life was out of the question. Not that it had occurred to her before he told her she couldn't talk.
And then, something unbelievable. His other hand was pushing her hair back behind her ear. The same ear he was whispering into. Somehow, the perverse tenderness of the gesture made her want to throw up. But she couldn't move, and she couldn't speak. She tried to keep her nausea down.
"I won't hurt a pretty little hair on your head if you just do everything I say," he whispered. "And you do have pretty hair, you know."
It was too much. She gagged. The knife pressed sharper against her throat.
"I'm sorry," she choked out.
The knife relaxed a little and she heard him laugh in her ear. "I thought I said no talking, baby doll."
He tensed. Sara heard footsteps. Greg! she thought, Oh no…
He withdrew the knife. Sara reached for something to use as a weapon but he grabbed her wrist. "Turn around, or try anything funny, and I swear I'll shoot you and your friend right here. Act normal."
Sara wished she hadn't left her gun in the back seat.
Greg opened the passenger side door and climbed in. "We're all clear here," he said. "I got the sample, we just need to—Sara, are you OK?"
There was a bang. It rang in her ears long after the initial boom had dissipated. Sara screamed. He covered her mouth. She bit his hand. She felt the barrel of the gun at the back of her head.
"Shut up and behave or I'll shoot you too!" he snarled in her ear.
It was all she could do to calm down. Her breaths were deep and shuttering. Her eyes darted over to Greg, who lay bleeding in the passenger seat. Her heart was racing.
"W-where?" She never stuttered. Not even talking to the police after her father died. Her lips were dry and chapped. She tried to lick them, but her tongue and the rest of her mouth was just as dry.
"Just drive," he replied. "I'll tell you what to do."
Sara swallowed and nodded, the cold steel still at the base of her skull. She raised her shaking hands tentatively and gripped the wheel. Her hands were sweating. She couldn't help but keep glancing over at Greg. She dared not turn her head to see where he'd been shot. But he was moaning, which told her that he was at least alive and conscious, for now.
"Is he badly hurt?" Sara asked, her voice still trembling.
"He's been shot in the shoulder," the man replied, matter-of-factly. "I may have severed an artery."
"He could lose a lot of blood," Sara said, nervously. "He could die."
"And what is that to me?" the man snapped.
She sniffed and kept driving. Her eyes kept darting over to him.
"You sick bastard…" Greg's voice was like that of a ghost. It made goose bumps rise on Sara's skin.
"Is that right?" said the man, sounding amused.
"Oh God…" Greg sounded like her was in intense pain. "Come on…" he said, breathless. "Give me… give me something to stop the bleeding."
"Or I could give you another bullet to stop your whining," the man snapped.
"Oh my God…"
"You shut up, bitch!" He pressed the gun further into the back of Sara's head. They were silent for a long time, with interspersed directions from the man in the back seat. Greg's heavy breathing both reassured and worried Sara. Once, she heard an odd clicking sound. Glancing at Greg she could see his good hand fiddling with something in his pocket. She tried so hard not to cry. She hated when her eyes stung like that. But she wasn't about to show this guy that he had made her cry. But a tear leaked out. She felt something cool on her hand and looked down to see that Greg had reached over to her. He was looking at her, his other arm on his shoulder. It was paining him to reach out to her with his injured arm, but he was trying to smile at her. It was too much. She started to cry.
"Oh Jesus, keep your hands to yourself, gimp, your making the bitch cry."
Greg withdrew his hand and Sara reluctantly let out another sob at the man's words. She looked over to see that Greg hadn't withdrawn his arm on his own, but rather he had fallen unconscious. She bit her lip.
"Turn here," the man ordered and Sara turned into the parking lot of a warehouse on the outskirts of town in the industrial district. She looked at it forebodingly and wondered vaguely if this was where she was going to die.
The flash illuminated the room for a split second before it was dark again. Warrick thought for a moment about whether or not to comment of the irony of taking photographs in a darkroom. He turned to look at Catherine and the sour look on her face made the decision for him. He focused the camera on the bullet wound in the victim's skull and snapped another photo.
"What's eating you?"
She didn't reply right away. She was leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded as she watched him work. The room was only big enough for one of them at a time. Catherine hadn't volunteered to go first.
"It's nothing," she muttered, then hesitated. "I mean… it's just… it's Lindsey."
"Ah," said Warrick, taking another photograph. "Has she gotten herself into trouble?"
"Sort of," Catherine replied. For a second, Warrick thought that was all she was going to say, and then, "I can't stand her new boyfriend."
"Boyfriend? Is she that old already?"
"No, she's not," Catherine snapped. "I mean, well, I guess I was dating at that age, but not boys like him."
"Hm…" Warrick muttered, looking at the victim's mouth. "There are white fibers here, on his lips." He took a sample. "So who is the lucky guy?"
"I think he's a drug dealer," Catherine replied. "Or, I wouldn't be surprised."
"Come on," said Warrick with a wry smile. "Like you never dated a few bad boys."
"No, I really think he's a drug dealer," Catherine tried to defend herself. "He kept sniffling all through dinner."
"You had him over for dinner?" Warrick dropped the fibers into the test tube.
"Lindsey insisted," Catherine muttered. "You should have seen the way he acted, it was disgusting. She's doing it to punish me, I know."
"You can't be sure of that…" Warrick noted bruises on the victim's arms. "Hey, Catherine, when you shoot someone do you normally bite them first?"
Her head obviously wasn't on the case. "I mean, he had a tattoo. How many sixteen-year-olds have a tattoo?"
"How do you know he was sixteen?"
"Ugh!" Catherine threw her arms into the air. "I don't want to be one of those moms that freaks out when her daughter starts dating, but this is ridiculous. I wish I was home more often."
"Hey," said Warrick, taking photos of the bruises. "We all wish that."
Catherine's cell phone began to ring. "It's Grissom," she said. "Hold on." She held the phone to her ear. "What's up?"
Warrick was too busy analyzing the scene to see the color drain from Catherine's face. "Catherine, there's a bullet hole in that wall over there, maybe we can find a…" He trailed off as he watched her hang up her phone. "What is it?"
Her face was pale and confused. All thoughts of Lindsey were pushed from her mind. "Grissom says that Sara and Greg are…" The words were too alien and yet all too familiar for her to say. Her tongue searched for the right thing to say. How had Grissom put it? "MIA."
"MIA? What? What's that mean?" Warrick asked. Catherine shrugged.
"I'm not sure," Catherine said. "He wants us back. Now."
Nick and Grissom climbed out of the car and looked at the bar skeptically. Several squad cars were at the scene as well.
"You sent them out here?" Nick asked. "The middle of nowhere?"
"It was a report from the bartender about his bathroom being covered in blood," said Grissom. "They should have been in and out. When I called their phones neither one answered." Grissom tipped his hat at Brass, who was talking to a cop by his car.
"That doesn't mean they're in trouble," said Nick.
"Brass called me," Grissom explained. "He said that Sara climbed into the car. He'd just finished talking to the bartender and was on the phone so he didn't pay much attention to her beyond that. He saw Greg come out and they waved at each other. Next thing he knew, there was a gun shot and a scream, and Sara drove off fast enough to leave tread marks on the road."
Nick bit his lip and avoided Grissom's eyes. Instead he just looked at the door to the bar. "You think it was another trap."
Grissom was quiet for a long time. "I don't know," he said frankly. He nodded at the only two cars in the lot. "Brass said that one of those cars is the bartender's. We should see who the other belongs to. And if it's stolen."
Nick nodded. He took a deep breath before entering the bar with Grissom close behind. He leaned over the counter. "Grissom, you said the bartender made the call?"
"Yeah," said Grissom. "Why?"
"Because it looks like he won't be making any more calls from here on out."
Grissom came up to Nick's side and looked over. Grissom sighed. "Looks like a broken neck."
"Someone else was still here," said Nick.
Grissom did not reply, but instead headed towards the men's room and opened the door. The nauseating stench was overpowering and Grissom had to cover his mouth and nose. Just as reported, the walls were painted with blood, as well as other substances Grissom would rather not think of. There was crime scene tape, which meant Sara and Greg had definitely been at the scene.
Grissom's head turned at Nick's call but he didn't have to walk far. Nick was running to him, holding up his phone. Grissom took it in his hand and looked at it. It was open to a text message from Greg. It had only three letters written on the screen. SOS.
Grissom looked at Nick square in the eyes. "Now I think it's a trap."
Sara was thrown into a small cell made of chain link. She landed on something soft and sticky and she looked down and wrinkled her nose to see she had landed on a body. She scampered away from it and wiped the girl's blood on her jeans. She looked up as her kidnapper reentered the warehouse. The warehouse was dimly lit, and it was about an hour or so before sunrise, so she still couldn't see his face. He was carrying Greg as he laid him out on what looked to her to be an operating table, surrounded by trays with various instruments on them. His back was to her when he started talking.
"You must forgive the accommodations," he said. "It used to be Helen's room and she hasn't quite decided to leave yet. You two will have to be bunkmates for a while. I'm sure you'll get along great."
Sara looked at the body, at least a day dead by the look of her. She was a brunette with cold brown eyes that stared at Sara blindly. Sara dealt with corpses on a daily basis and they had long ago stopped bothering her. In any other situation, she could have a staring match with this corpse, and win too. But now, as things were grave and her own life was being called into question, she couldn't stand the constant reminder of her own mortality staring her in the face. This girl died by this man's hands. Greg had been shot by him. Why would he hesitate to kill her too?
"What are you going to do to him?" So long as she focused on Greg, she didn't have to worry about herself.
"As we speak, I'm tending to his wounds."
He turned slightly at her inquiry and she saw him flash her a twisted smile. "I know you guys well enough that you tend to come in pairs. Generally I prefer to take on you guys one at a time. I'm sure you know."
It was at that moment that the name Helen rang a bell in Sara's skull. "Oh Jesus," she said. "You're that serial killer Grissom and Nick are looking for. Helen Richmond was an LVPD that's been missing, and before her there was Mark Lewis the lawyer. Nick was just running the trace evidence from that dump scene…"
"And before him, Rachel Matthews the traffic cop, and before her, Danielle Porter the judge, and before her Eric Sanchez the vice detective—"
"No discrimination," Sara said, mostly to herself, "not in age, sex or race, the only thing in common was…"
"The fact that they're all in law enforcement." He laughed. "Yeah. All angles of it, too. First time going after you CSIs though, and I gotta tell you, you guys are fun. Last time I shot a guy was that lawyer, and he whined and moaned, not this one though. He was quiet as a mouse, I gotta hand it to him. Impressive. He even tried to comfort you when he obviously in more pain. You want to know why I'm fixing him up all pretty-like? Because he earned it. Also, I'm not finished with you folks just yet. You sound familiar with my case, I'm guessing because it's pretty high profile. So you know, I don't content myself with just killing y'all."
It was true. The details of this guys case came flooding back to Sara's mind and it made her shiver. What he put his male victims through was bad enough, but one look at poor Helen there and Sara didn't even need to imagine what happened to his female victims. All of a sudden, she felt very cold. She began to rub her upper arms.
"You don't bait your victims," Sara remembered. "Why…"
"Because you CSI guys are like roaches. You don't come out of the dark until you smell food."
Sara stared at the floor and hugged her knees. She was quiet for a long time as she listened to her nameless, faceless kidnapper clean up Greg's wound.
"I should have just let you shoot me in the car…" she whispered. "Slit my throat."
The man stopped all his work on Greg but did not turn to look at her. "Is that a request, Miss Sidle?" Sara was about to ask how he knew her name when she thought it was irrelevant. He seemed to read her mind. "Your vest, Miss Sidle. It has your name on it. And this boy here. How old do you think he is? Just north of thirty?" He glanced back at Sara. "And you. You can't be much older than thirty-five yourself." It was eerie that he was right on the money about her age. "Sanders… I knew a Sanders once. He kicked my ass in junior high every day of the week." He glanced at Sara again. "Oh, but I'm sure there's no relation. The Sanders I knew cried like a baby when I bit a sizable piece of flesh out of his shoulder."
There was no way out. There was no way out for Helen, and there was no way out for her and Greg either. Oh Greg. She felt sorry for the kid. It would have been bad enough if it had just been her in trouble. But now she had him to worry about too.
There was a strange noise coming from the table that reminded Sara of a chainsaw. But the kidnapper had stopped working. He reached into Greg's pocket and pulled out a phone.
"Nick Stokes," he said, the name echoing in the warehouse. He turned and grinned at Sara. "Friend of yours?"